Originally, my daughter had a small blue bin of LEGO bricks and other components. We later added a couple of other small sets and bulk boxes of bricks and such, which essentially filled the bin.
And then my obsession with LEGO began...
Right now, all of LEGO pieces in our house are mixed together. There isn't really differentiation between mine and hers, except for the sets which are targeted toward older teens and adults (Tower Bridge, Grand Emporium, Fire Brigade). Over the past month I have purchased a ton -- the before mentioned sets, other large sets (houses, various parts of the city line), large bins from the educational division (rescue, vehicles, etc.), bulk boxes of bricks/wheels/doors/windows/minifigs, and several Ebay purchases (3-16 lb lots, plus some specific items).
I'm working to organize and catalog what I have. However, due to the size of the collection, it makes it a bit tricky for my daughter (4 years old) to work with. She's good about keeping things in their correct bins, but finding the bin she wants, and remembering to put it away when she's done, have been a challenge. Also, she tries to carry the 6-quart shoebox sized plastic bins from one room to the next, which has ended with dropping them a few times and spilling all of their contents.
We have the rule of no messing with something mommy is currently working on, which she's usually good about remembering (but not always). We spend time together putting together sets as well, which will most likely be some of the City sets. Right now we're working on the garage, but police station, fire station, are in the queue. Once those are built, she will be allowed to play with them. But she's not permitted to play with the Tower Bridge (which I put up on a mantel anyway, so she really can't reach it easily). I did, however, let her help me by building the vehicles to put on the bridge. She loves building vehicles! And that part of the set was well within her current abilities and attention span. She was thrilled with getting a chance to help on mommy's big project.
This brings me to my question: For those of you with young children, do you set any rules regarding which bricks and other components your child is allowed to use? Or do you give them access to the entire collection? Certain sets will be off limits for her, but I'm unsure how to handle the general collection of bricks and components. Have you had luck in allowing a preschool/kindergarten-aged child to freely use the general collection for building? I've considered setting aside a bunch of bricks and components in small bins or even a divided tray for the special pieces, which will be her collection that she can freely use whenever. Have any of you tried that? Did it work, or did your kid get upset about not having ready access to the entire collection?
If you do let your kid have access to your entire collection, what's the easiest way for them to locate a part they want? The clear shoebox sized bins are easy to see into, but I have my smaller pieces in multi-compartment cases, and it's easy to see inside by looking through the top, but when they are stored stacked, you obviously can't see in the top at all times. If she's going to be using those regularly, I need to find a way to label them that's clear for her. She can't really read yet, but is starting to learn to recognize some words, The labels would definitely have to have a strong pictorial component. Has anyone made those for their collection? Any suggestions for that?
Any advice you could give me regarding this matter would be greatly appreciated. I **love** playing with LEGO with my daughter, but having her constantly pull out 5-10 bins at a time and not clean up appropriately has gotten quite frustrating.
My apologies for writing such a long post. I never thought it would end up this long, but here we are. If you have taken the time to read all the way through, I really, really appreciate it.